Monday 3 October 2011

Deaf girl goes tap dancing

I have just bought some tap shoes.

Hmmm yes, if youd told me one month ago that Id type those words on a sunny Monday lunchtime in October, I would not have believed you. But here I am, declaring that I have bought some tap shoes. Black. Lace up. With tappity things on the heels and toes.

It all started when the Cricket Boffin suggested I join her for a beginners tap class. Before I went very deaf, I did ballet for many, many years, prancing about with no real clue what my teacher was saying. And then, as I went deafer, I decided to pack it in. It was just too hear to work out what was going on.

Since then, apart from an insane moment where I auditioned for the National Youth Music Theatre, and a bizarre moment where I took my gold and silver exams in line dancing, Ive shied away from dance – Zumba-ing only at my local gym, where lets face it, no real dancers hang out.

But as I discovered last week, tap dancing is different. The rhythm is in my feet, the sound is in my feet, the vibrations are in my feet – everything is in my feet except perhaps talent.

Its the first dance Ive done in a long time, where I actually enjoyed it – perhaps because it makes a noise in a frequency I can here and also because it requires elegance in a format that suits me.

Even better, my teacher is easy to hear, and because she teaches little ones most of the time, she doesnt use any hard-to-lipread words.

Its so satisfying when I find something else I can do with ease, in spite of my deafness. There are so many things I find so difficult that the enjoyment is sapped from them until its just a struggle. Take the time I tried yoga – by the end of the class, I was so tense that if Id thrown myself out the 2nd floor window, I would have probably bounced straight into orbit.

And will I be any good at tap? Probably not. At last weeks class – done in socks – I kept catching sight of a blonde girl floundering around while counting to 7 in the mirror, and then realising it was me. When we had to shuffle, tap backwards, I almost took out the lady behind me. And if I look at my feet, I miss what the teacher is saying and end up appearing as though I have a freestyle approach to learning.

But I do not care.

Its fun.

And when I practice on a wooden chopping board in my flat, my neighbour is going to be over the moon, which in itself is enough to make me smile for an entire week.

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